Computer Science student develops interactive app for JBS’ Presidential Gallery
March 22, 2017
Filed under Showcase
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I’m not sure if I was fascinated more with the Founding Father’s display at the entrance or the shiny new iPad on the kiosk in front of me with a wealth of information. But, either way, I was captivated. On the first page of the IPad was a picture of the display (that I was looking at in front of me) and a date with the period I was currently in, 1789-1825. This page told me everything I needed to know about what took place during that time from the historical facts to the presidents who served during the period. Scrolling down, I select George Washington out of a list of presidents who served during the time which brings up a picture of him with his biography to the right. Below that are descriptions of the artifacts related to him which happen to be right in front of the section I am in. I found myself spending more time staring at the display and less walking around reading signs to understand what it was that I was seeing. This app takes the viewing experience to an entirely new, interactive level.
Manuel Chuecos, who is a graduate student pursuing his Master’s Degree in Computer Science, has developed an iOS, an operating system used for mobile devices manufactured by Apple, application for the John Ben Shepperd (JBS) Leadership Institute at UTPB.
“The app is intended to be used in iOS devices, IPad more specifically,” he noted. We set up Ipads in the Presidential gallery here at UTPB University of Texas of the Permian Basin, John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute. The gallery is growing in the artifacts, items they are getting, and information. So, because of the increase they needed a solution to convey that information effectively to the visitors which have been increasing as well over the last few years. The solution that I proposed was to implement that iOS application so visitors will be able to interact with the Ipads and then see videos and information that are related to that historical period or president,” Chuecos stated.
The Presidential Archives and Leadership Library is currently located on the campus of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and is administered by the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute. As stated on the Shepperd Institute website, the archival collection was started by local Odessa citizens as a memorial to the memory of President John F. Kennedy. However, there was such a large response with information about other presidents that a decision was made to create a unique collection that would be dedicated to the office of the presidency and an understanding of the electoral process.
The collection consists of exhibits, campaign memorabilia, books, photos, magazines, and other historic collectibles that share the history of the office of the president and events that have shaped the American people. The application is intended to enhance the interaction between the visitors and the presidential gallery.
“With only one application you can go through all the presidents of the United States there and all the information pertaining to them. It helps the visitors to have a better experience with the gallery. Guests are able to see videos, pictures, and correspondents to the different historical periods in which the presidents were grouped, pictures, descriptions for the artifacts, and biographies,” he said.
The project started March of 2016 but it was not until December 2016 that the application was released to the public. The application was developed in iOS 9 but in the process iOS 10 came out which resulted in an update.
“It wasn’t a huge process but you always have to maintain that and make changes accordingly. Last week I installed an updated version of the application because some changes were required,” Chuecos said.
The app is not something that is available through the app store but instead is a private application that was intended to be used privately only for the JBS institute. It is a motivation for the visitors to go there and get a chance to see what is going on.
Chuecos was originally introduced to this project by his advisor, Dr. Quan Yuan, assistant professor of Computers Science and they both worked along with Clay Finley, associate director at the JBS institute. The first thing they had to decide was to select the program language which they were going to use to program the application.
“Without my advisor, I would have never known about this opportunity. After going through this, I consider him my friend,” he shared. “We decided to go with Swift which is a programming language that is used for the iOS devices. Prior to this, I did have a background in programming, but I had no experience programming in Swift. It took me about two months to get familiar with it and I spent much time practicing and looking at tutorials online,” he expressed.
Chuecos shared that they had regular meetings with Finley who played a large part in the application development by directing them in the focus he wanted them to take it in. Finley was also the person who wrote the descriptions and historical details for the application.
Building the application was the first professional project that the young student has ever participated in and he feels great to make something that people will use.
“This has been a great experience and it is a great feeling to have done this. Not only personally but it will also be a great asset to my resume and professional profile. iOS devices are widely used these days so now that I know how to program in Swift, it will help me in that Computer science area,” he explained.
The young student received his Bachelor’s Degree in Systems Engineering with a focus in Control and Automation while living in Venezuela, where he was also born and raised. He and his family moved to the area in 2015 and he says that after much search for a University to attend he knew that the University of Texas of the Permian Basin was the place for him.
“I was considering the universities around the area and that’s how I found out about UTPB. I saw that they had a Computer Science Master’s degree so I got in contact with the chair of that department at that time and he explained to me everything. I thought it would be a great idea to have that compliment in my profession background,” he said.
Chuecos believes that the area of Computer Science during this time right now is a popular field and that there are many opportunities available to those who are pursuing this degree.
“Everything works on computers and now with the advanced mobile devices, there is a need for mobile development and web development. I also like the programming part. In the Systems engineering, I took four program classes during my Bachelors so I already had an idea of what programming was about. However, I wanted to expand more in that area because I believe it is a very wide area with great need,” he stated.
Manuel plans on graduating in May with his Master’s degree and hopes to go on to a job in the engineering field or Computer Science.
“I would love to get a job that is related to mobile developing and if the job comes I will for sure take that,” he said.
Chuecos has enjoyed his time as a student and praises UTPB for helping him to have a more personalized experience as a student.
“UTPB is not the biggest school in Texas but it is a very good University. The fact that the classrooms are not overcrowded allows you to have a personalized experience as a student which I believe is one of the reasons I got to know Dr. Yuan and get this opportunity,” he said.